Rear Admiral A, I. Bob-Manuel joined the service as a Regular Combatant officer cadet in January 1971, against the wish of a family that saw nothing good in a career in the armed forces. He was however determined to convince a skeptical family that their perception of the proud career he had chosen was not as exactly as it seemed. Expectations were quite high and he tried very hard in his 35 years of service to live up to the lofty ideals of the family.
At every stage in his career, the Naval Headquarters found him worthy to be tasked with some of the most challenging duties/appointments. On land, he served in all the single/tri-service training institutions (less the War College) and held the highest staff appointment both at the Command level and in the Naval Headquarters. As a Captain, he was privileged to be appointed the CO of the NNS premier naval base, the NNS BEECROFT. Also, he was one of the only three senior officers in the history of the Nigerian Navy to be honored with service in both the East and Western Naval Commands as Flag Officer Commanding (FOG) i.e GOC equivalent.
At sea, he was honored with the command of almost all the major combat platforms at the Nigerian Navy. In 1990, his Ship, the NNS OHUE deployed to Liberia as part of the Naval Task Group in the early stages of the ECOMOG operations. In addition to exercising command on board the Ship, he was also privileged to be appointed the Officer in Tactical Command (OTC) over the combined fleet at the ECOMOG navies for all combat operations. He exercised his last sea command onboard the navy’s flagship, the NNS ARADU in 1999.
As the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, he was very conscious of his moral obligation to his family, the navy and to his great country; Nigeria. His command’s hard line against crude oil thieves witnessed the imprisonment and dismissal of two senior officers. This action is unprecedented in the Nigerian Navy, and it was taken to discourage other personnel, both officers and men, from compromising on professional integrity.
His relieved of the Western Naval Command was due entirely to a zero-tolerance policy the command adopted on crude oil theft. Pursuant to the practical translation of this policy, the personal pride, honor and professional integrity of the personnel of the NWC were tasked to the limit. Huge personal sacrifices were made by the more trusted and dedicated personnel in the command. There were imperfections in the system but on the whole, the NWC witnessed growth in professionalism and recorded commendable operational achievements never before experienced in the Nigerian Navy. All these achievements were attained through leadership by example and a willingness to follow by the officers and men of the Western Naval Command. The achievement of the NWC under his leadership was and is still there for the world to see.
His leadership witnessed the most successful and dynamic period in the annals of the command. But to the few he offended by his actions, both within and without the Nigerian Navy, the period represented the beginning of an unacceptable decline in fortune in their fraudulent pursuits. They must have felt quite uncomfortable with his methods in the NWC, with their combined influence and power, they appointed him out of the NWC and perfected their plans to facilitate the escape of the MT AFRICAN PRIDE from lawful custody.