In a narrow dirt lane where children scamper and play, Garba Buzu’s rubber sandals slap the ground as he walks.
His black prayer beads dangle and swing in his right hand. His shoulders are bent, and his body rolls like a ship with every pace along the alleys of this northern Nigerian city.
He wears an enigmatic smile.
The children freeze shyly when he walks by. Mothers throw themselves to the ground and bow low. Old men clap their hands together, faces creased with joy.
He nods, acknowledging them all.
These are Buzu’s streets, in sprawling neighborhoods of narrow alleys, tiny dwellings and open gutters. Goats amble about, water sellers push their heavy carts, and the smell of charcoal fire drifts in the evening air.
People shout “bundi” as he passes, a sign of reverence meaning “blessings.”
He built the houses in these neighborhoods — several thousand of them and dozens of shops, according to aides —  and offered them rent-free to …